What is Ejection Fraction and What Does it Tell You About Your Heart?

Before her cardiology appointment, Mrs. Elliott had an echocardiogram, or ultrasound, of her heart. This was not unusual, as she has an echocardiogram each year before her annual cardiology appointment. During Mrs. Elliott’s subsequent visit to the cardiologist she learned she had a low ejection fraction. She understands that this is related to her being out of breath when she walks from her bedroom to her kitchen, but she doesn’t understand what it actually means.

Let’s explain:

The heart is a muscle that provides the force for your blood to circulate around your entire body. The heart has four chambers. The two upper, smaller chambers are called the right and left atria (singular: atrium). Beneath the atria, the two larger chambers are called the right and left ventricles. Blood from your body comes into the right atria and is pumped through the right ventricle and through your lungs. Blood returning from your lungs enters the left side of the heart. Blood from the left ventricle flows through your aorta, and is distributed throughout your body via your blood vessels.

The percentage of blood that leaves the ventricle during a contraction is called the ejection fraction. The amount of blood leaving the left ventricle is called left ventricular ejection fraction while the amount of blood leaving the right ventricle is called right ventricular ejection fraction. The echocardiogram is one way to measure the ejection fraction from each side of your heart. A normal heart’s ejection fraction is typically between 55 and 70%.

Your ejection fraction tells the doctor how well each side of your heart is pumping. A low ejection fraction indicates the heart muscle is having trouble pumping blood, which can happen for a number of reasons. Your cardiologist wants to know this information in order to give you the best possible treatment. Your cardiologist may be able to change the ejection fraction by using drugs and other treatments.

When it comes to evaluating whether a Protected PCI is right for you, ejection fraction is a key indicator. Hemodynamically stable patients with depressed ejection fraction (<35%) can be potential candidates for Protected PCI procedures. Patients with severe coronary artery disease who have no other circulatory problems, and have been evaluated by a heart team may also be potential candidates for Protected PCI procedures.

For more information about the Impella 2.5’s approved indications for use, as well as important safety, contraindication and warning information concerning the device, please visit http://abiomed.com/impella

Next Steps:

The Impella 2.5 system is a temporary (<6 hours) ventricular support device indicated for use during high risk percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) performed in elective or urgent, hemodynamically stable patients with severe coronary artery disease and depressed left ventricular ejection fraction, when a heart team, including a cardiac surgeon, has determined high risk PCI is the appropriate therapeutic option. Use of the Impella 2.5 in these patients may prevent hemodynamic instability which can result from repeat episodes of reversible myocardial ischemia that occur during planned temporary coronary occlusions and may reduce peri- and post-procedural adverse events.

Protected PCI [or Impella 2.5, CP, etc.] is not right for everyone.  You may not be able to be treated with Impella if you have certain pre-existing conditions, which a cardiologist will determine, such as:  severe narrowing of the heart valve, severe peripheral artery disease, clots in your blood vessels, or a replacement heart valve or certain heart valve deficiencies.  Additionally, use of Impella has been associated with risks, including, but not limited to valvular and vascular injury, bleeding, and limb ischemia in certain patients.  Learn more about the Impella devices’ approved indications for use, as well as important safety and risk information at www.protectedpci.com/indications-use-safety-information/.